Twitter wasn’t too happy after Shia LaBeouf laughed while presenting at the 2020 Oscars with an actor with Down syndrome.
When LaBeouf, 33, took the stage at the Dolby Theatre with his “The Peanut Butter Falcon” co-star Zack Gottsagen, 34, many called him out when he appeared to snicker as Gottsagen struggled to get through his prompted lines.
“The Peanut Butter Falcon,” out this year, is about a man with Down syndrome (played by Gottsagen), who runs away from a care home to follow his dreams of becoming a wrestler, with the help of LaBeouf’s character.
Twitter is divided on whether the “Honey Boy” star was laughing with a friend or making fun of someone with a disability. (The two walked the red carpet together earlier Sunday, hugging and posing for photos.)
Still, outspoken social media users sounded off: “Shia LeBeouf literally laughed at kid with special needs… wtf,” wrote @isabellahadidv.
“why was Shia LaBeouf so impatient with the boy on stage? laughing at and pushing him along? so distasteful,” said an angry @snowcaplou.
“Ok Shia LeBeouf is canceled,” agreed @rakebamsey.
Others found the criticism ignorant of the actors’ friendship.
“People are rippin [on] Shia LaBeouf and don’t even know the story between him and Zack lol. Nooo he wasn’t being impatient or rude. He was being a friend and making way for Zack to be autonomous #Oscars,” wrote @speakonitace, defending the moment.
“90% of twitter right now has never heard of The Peanut Butter Falcon and doesn’t know about the sweet friendship between Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen. Direct your misguided judgement somewhere else,” said @wtempfer.
“Shia was so just good with his costar Zack Gottsagen. He didn’t jump in too quickly to help him. He trusted Zack, waited for him to gather himself, and let [him] do it on his own. #Oscars,” wrote @maxthegirl.
One contingent that’s not offended: the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability rights organization, which celebrated the first time an actor who has Down syndrome has presented an award at the Oscars.“For nearly a century, disability has been glaringly left out of the conversation on diversity in Hollywood. Tonight’s award presentation marks a substantive step forward for both the Academy and the entertainment industry as a whole,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the foundation, in a statement. “It is our sincere hope that this milestone serves as a springboard for greater inclusion in Hollywood, including through increased authentic casting of actors with disabilities in disability-based roles, and able-bodied based roles.